The Syrian government will likely miss the deadline for the removal of all of its chemical weapons. The failure to make its own April 13 cut-off raises questions over possible international sanctions against Damascus. The date was part of a Russian-American accord that alleviated the threat of US military strikes against Bashar Al-Assad’s government in the wake of a deadly chemical attack in August last year. The Syrian government and opposition forces blame each for that attack. CCTV’s Alaa Ebrahim reports from Damascus
Time is running out. That is the message the United Nations is sending Damascus when it comes to the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
The UN set June 30 as the date by which all of Syria’s chemical agents should be destroyed and the Assad administration pledged to remove them all from the country by April 13. It’s a promise they’re not likely to keep.
Syrian officials say most of the remaining chemical weapons will be transported from their storage areas to the port of Lattakia on Thursday. The coastal province, however, is the scene of intense clashes with rebels.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the removal of the deadly agents says its convoys have been attacked on several occasions including in Lattakia.
According to reports the OPCW has only taken delivery of 54% of Syria’s declared 1,200 tons of chemical weapons, and only 43 per cent of the “Priority One” materials – those too toxic to be sent to a commercial processing plant.
That means an estimated 552 tons of chemical stocks are still on the ground in Syria, waiting to be transported by armed convoy to the port.
The Syrian government says despite recent military successes against opposition forces, it’s being hampered in its efforts to transport its chemical stockpile to the harbours from where it’s handed onto American naval vessels for destruction. Damascus may well ask for more time to complete the task, the question remains what reaction or consequences will that incur from the UN and the US.”.